A Possible Saudi Arabian ‘Coup’ Made New Crown Prince Future King, Report Says

The Saudi prince who had been first in the royal line of succession was reportedly “pressured” by royal court officials to give up his spot as Saudi Arabia’s future king, a possibly damning indication that the Middle East nation’s internal politics are greatly in flux and not nearly as stable as other reports have claimed, according to The New York Times.

Following what analysts have likened to a coup, Mohammed bin Salman, 31, is now the current crown prince of one of the most powerful majority-Muslim nations in the world.

Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, nephew of current King Salman, was originally expected to ascend the throne. On the night of June 20, he was separated from a group of senior princes and security officials at the Safa Palace in Mecca, just as the holy month of Ramadan was winding down, U.S. officials and royal family associates told The Times.

During that meeting, Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, at first reportedly refused to give up his status as the crown prince and interior minister, but he eventually relented.

Analysts also stated that the timing of Mohammed bin Nayef’s ouster, during a major Muslim holiday, was “advantageous for a change…like a coup on Christmas Eve.”

As Mohammed bin Nayef was being pressured, the Allegiance Council, which manages the line of succession, was holding a meeting. It was there that some in attendance were told that the now deposed crown prince has a drug problem, making him “unfit to be king,” according to The Times.

Mohammed bin Nayef survived an assassination attempt in 2009, but the injuries he sustained may have resulted in drug use.

“The weight of the evidence I have seen is that he was more injured in the assassination attempt than was admitted and that he then got onto a painkiller routine that was very addictive,” Bruce Riedel, former Central Intelligence Agency officer and director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution, told The Times. “I think that problem got progressively worse.”

Mohammed bin Nayef has reportedly been forbidden from leaving the kingdom or his palace in Jiddah.

Just a month prior to his rise, Mohammed bin Salman traveled to Washington to meet U.S. President Donald Trump while Saudi Arabia also closed on a 10-year, $350 billion arms deal with the U.S, according to CNBC in May.

Mohammed bin Salman, as part of his Vision 2030 plan, has attempted to build up Saudi Arabia’s economic reach, as the world’s largest oil exporter has had limited success in other sectors.

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